Growing Evidence of an Emerging Tick-borne Disease That Causes a Lyme-like Illness For Many Australia Patients
Professor Noel. Campbell
Fellow Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine
sub1281_Campbell (1) 372 page Paper Here
Over the past three decades, thousands of Australian families have felt the impact of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases (TBDs), with an estimated 10,000 individuals affected each year. Whether it is a laborer who cannot continue his work because of debilitating joint pain, or a child who misses school because of debilitating fatigue, pain and cognitive dysfunction, TBDs can have a significant effect on the day to day lives of Australians. Since Lyme disease was first identified in Australia in 1982, the disease has spread geographically, and in severity. It has been documented that there has been an increase in tickborne diseases in Australia, including early and late forms, as well as an increase in neurological cases.
The patient experience may be characterized by delays in diagnosis, confusion, frustration, ongoing illness, with, in many cases poor outcomes, disability and a significant financial burden. (Most recently, we have started to record deaths in Australia from tickborne diseases.)
Recognizing these facts, the Parliament of Australia has referred these matters to the Senate Community Affairs References committee for enquiry and report. The Senate acknowledged the significant toll TBDs may exact on individuals, families, communities, and the state, noting that TBDs pose a serious threat to the health and quality of life of many residents and visitors to Australia.
The purpose of this inquiry should be to establish a Lyme and related tickborne diseases task force charged with exploring and identifying recommendations related to education and awareness, long term effects of misdiagnosis, prevention, and surveillance. The intent of the recommendations are generally to improve Australia’s response to the tickborne disease burden.
This submission reflects the history of TBDs in Australia, and includes specific recommendations as well as implementation strategies, case studies, and resource needs. While the Senate Inquiry will be the result of months of research and co-collaboration, it is clear that its report is merely the beginning of a much-needed dialogue and structured planning process across the country.
The primary recommendations in this submission focus on increased and improve surveillance, prevention of tick exposure strategies and tactics, as well as education and awareness for healthcare practitioners(HCPs), patients, the general public and other stakeholders.
In contemplating each recommendation, the author carefully considered each of the countries key stakeholders, including patients of all ages and their families, vulnerable populations, health care providers, domestic animals, researchers, Government agencies, policy makers, schools and community organisations, and the general public.
- Tickborne disease knowledge and research is evolving rapidly. It will be vital to encourage critical research, to understand the scope and scale of Lyme and other TBDs in Australia, and to develop options to improve the public health response and the community/ patient outcomes.
- Different schools of thought exist among all stakeholders regarding Lyme. Ambiguities do exist so it is important to promote a strong and academically rigourous pursuit of better research to help clarify the best options for patients. We are encouraged to keep an open mind, and to continue to explore the nature of these diseases and their health impacts.
- The most critical research gap is the lack of a gold standard test for Lyme and other tickborne infections; a test that can quickly and accurately diagnose the disease, and prove or disprove ongoing persistence. Research into bio- resonance for diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease is producing encouraging results in Melbourne Australia.
- Without more research and surveillance, it will be difficult to stay ahead of this rapidly evolving public health problem.
- The cost to Australia of doing nothing is considerable.
- Without targeted and significant funding, it is unlikely these recommendations can be deployed in an effective and impactful way.
- Collaboration among the commonwealth’s diverse stakeholders Will help ensure programs and strategies are innovative, effective, and measurable. Too many Australians have suffered the consequences of Lyme and TBD’s, and without action, thousands more remain at risk. This is important public health challenge affects all Australians -every state has reported ticks infected with bacteria. And yet our children, our elderly, and our immunocompromised are most at risk and most vulnerable to their impact. Our actions now, will significantly impact Australian youth’s risk and future potential.The author respectfully requests Swift action on the enclose recommendations by all state leaders charged with ensuring the protection and well being of the Commonwealth’s residents.